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What Is Diethylcarbamazine?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Diethylcarbamazine is a prescription medication used to treat parasitic infections caused by certain types of worms. While symptoms may begin to improve after a few days, it is important to take this medication for the full length of time suggested by the prescribing physician. Some of the most frequently reported side effects of diethylcarbamazine include facial itching, swollen glands, and the development of a skin rash. Visual disturbances, headaches, and nausea may also occur when using this drug. Questions or concerns about the use of diethylcarbamazine in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Specific types of worm infections that are commonly treated with diethylcarbamazine include onchocerciasis, Bancroft's filariasis, and tropical pulmonary eosinophilia. Infections caused by other types of worms, such as the more familiar tapeworm or pinworm, are not treated with this type of medication. Diagnostic tests such as fecal exams are often needed in order to accurately diagnose the type of worm infection present so that proper treatment can begin.

Most side effects of diethylcarbamazine are mild and do not cause any significant risks to the overall health of the patient, although any new or bothersome symptoms that develop after beginning treatment with this medication should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Facial itching is among the most commonly reported side effects and usually affects the eyes. The lymph glands may swell and become painful while this drug is being used and should be reported to a doctor if the pain is persistent or accompanied by a fever. A mild skin rash is common but may indicate the presence of an allergic reaction, especially if accompanied by difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat or tongue.

Visual disturbances such as night blindness or tunnel vision may occur as a result of diethylcarbamazine. While these symptoms usually improve after the medication has been discontinued, an eye specialist should be consulted to make sure there are no complications that may lead to permanent vision loss. Headaches are frequently reported and can typically be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. If the headache is severe or develops suddenly, a trip to the nearest emergency department is recommended so that serious issues such as stroke or aneurysm can be ruled out. Any other symptoms that become persistent or bothersome when taking diethylcarbamazine should be discussed with a medical professional such as a doctor or pharmacist.

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